Thursday, February 19, 2009

Giles says the Red Shirts are 'moving beyond Thaksin'

Giles in The Guardian says: 'Since his overthrow and as a result of the prolonged crisis, a grassroots "red shirt" democracy movement has developed. They are moving beyond Thaksin'.

Personally, I have my doubts that the unwavering, unthinking, Thaksin 'loving' is over, but if true, that spells great trouble for the ruling elites - they need Thaksin to be the bogeyman on which all the attention can be focused.

Informed, aware, and thoughtful masses will be much more dangerous to them in the long run than Thaksin ever was.

The comments on the Guardian article are also interesting, but if the thai newspapers and various thai political blogs are any gauge of public thinking, I think the Thaksin factor will be around for quite some time yet.

It will be interesting to see what those in power can 'cook up' to keep Thaksin in the spotlight, but I'm also looking forward to the time when he is truly out of the picture - our attention can then be focused on other battles.

If the masses do become more informed, the 64 thousand dollar question is will it be because of Thaksins removal or in spite of it - my guess is the former.
(lets not forget an informed masses would also have been dangerous for Thaksin)

Here's a great summary by Rahiri at comment 13 in this Bangkok Post story:
"The whole Thaksin affair was just a dispute among the business/military/political elite who continue to rape and pillage as they have done for ages.
Look at the facts - as reported recently in the BKK Post.
Dr Kongkiat, CEO of Asia Plus Securities observed this week in the Bangkok Post, "Around 71% of the seven trillion baht in bank savings is in accounts holding more than one million baht. Some 67,000 accounts have balances of more than 10 million baht." In other words most people in Thailand have no money, but a small number have a shit load. And we haven’t even mentioned overseas bank accounts.
Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said "the farming sector ... currently brings in ten percent of Thailand's income but employs half the population. So a hit load of people earn very little on the tiny plots for which they often don't even have proper land title. Meanwhile most of the land in Thailand is owned by the same rich families and not a small amount is unproductive.
In Thailand there is no middle class and thus no real domestic market to respond to Abhisit's pump priming. Korn seems to be realising this now and was reported this evening as saying "a turnaround for the Thai economy was all but impossible unless the global economy improved".
Thailand is still a basically feudal society controlled by a small elite with an education system that functions primarily to reinforce the status quo (ever wonder why Thailand has no world famous brands, no Nobel prizes, no global innovations - because asking questions and seeking the truth are killed at school so the elite can keep control.
Thaksin's rape and pillage was no worse than any of his peers...but he fell foul of them because he wasn't afraid to play to the votes of the poor and actually deliver them a few filips to keep power. The elites behind the PAD have ever since been trying to put the genie back in the bottle because the prospect of the poor understanding the power of their vote and starting to demand a fair share is very threatening to status quo. Hence the demand for a 70% appointed representative! Appointed by who? Well of course....
It's not about vote buying - that's been the landscape of Thai elections since they began but if I accept 500 baht from a candidate who actually does a little to help me, instead of 200 baht from the candidate who does nothing for me - does that really make me stupid???
Now that exports which account for 65% of Thailands GDP are dead in the water, and the PAD airport closures dealt tourism a sucker punch when it was already beginning to gasp from the global slowdown, the just adequate employment and wages that allowed the poor to subsist and supplement their farming families lifestyles back home will be failing fast. What are all those people going to do back on the farms that can't support them? My guess is that more than a few are going to start getting angry.
PAD and UDD. You ain't seen anything yet! "

I agree this is the real battle, however I'm not so sure about the PAD airport occupation having a lasting effect on tourist numbers if the reports I've seen about numbers are already being back up and difficulty in finding rooms in some areas is correct.